How to Optimize Your YouTube Videos and Channel

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YouTube is currently the second largest search engine after Google. Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month, while over four billion hours of video are being watched each month. More and more companies and marketers have started delving into this new online marketing tool that undoubtedly all these years has charmed both consumers and businesses. Briefly, some of the advantages YouTube transfers to all these businesses that make use of it include:

  • The low cost of advertising, in contrast to conventional TV ads
  • The ease of YouTube integration with the company’s main website and other social media
  • The facilitation of content marketing strategies as YouTube itself is able to stand beside row text and provide a richer taste of the promoted product or service

Of course, the advantages do not end up here, and they could take a long time to be unrolled. Particularly, in this post, I will try to analyze the various factors that YouTube takes into account in order to rank its videos. It’s absolutely clear that the algorithmic complexity YouTube uses to attribute weight to each video and then display it in a predefined order is not as much advanced as the one Google has built all these years to index the entire World Wide Web.

Nevertheless, throughout this post, I will highlight the most significant elements for both YouTube channels and individual videos, which have to be taken under consideration in order to make able for businesses to gain high YouTube rankings.

How YouTube rank videos?

It is good to have a first taste on how YouTube ranks its videos. In fact, there is no clear evidence on how YouTube ranks the videos but the next four factors seem to be the dominants for the achievement of high rankings:

  1. Number of views
  2. Video Title
  3. Video Description
  4. Video Rating (likes, dislikes)

Keyword Research

YouTube keyword research is a vital part of YouTube optimization. Before we start explaining each of the particular video and channel elements it is fundamental to conduct a keyword research similar to the one all online marketers and SEOs do for the purposes of a website.

Therefore, the keyword research will be able to identify all these keywords that best match to the video and can be included in the video title and description. YouTube keyword tool is the best tool to show the search volume of keywords and make suggestions in new keywords (

Video Elements

To begin with, when a video is about to be uploaded it is better to include relevant keywords into its filename rather than keep it ambiguous, for example

In addition, the YouTube video title, description, category, captions, and annotations are significant parts in the video optimization process, and their effective use is able to boost video rankings to the top of the results.

Video Title

The title of the video should not exceed 70 characters, and it should include relevant keywords linking to the content. This ensures that the entire video title will be shown up in search results. In addition, it needs to be descriptive so it can be easily search for, and finally compelling enough to encourage people to watch it.

Video Description

The description of the video should not exceed 160 characters in order to be entirely shown up in search results. Otherwise, when description needs to be larger and more informative, compelling short text should be added in the beginning of the description. A link to the website should be added in the first line of the description as well, and relevant keywords should be included in the text.


A YouTube video can belong to one of several categories. The category to be picked up should be relevant to the video content. The categories include:

  • Autos & Vehicles
  • Comedy
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Film & Animation
  • Gaming
  • How-to & Style
  • Music
  • News & Politics
  • Nonprofits & Activism
  • People & Blogs
  • Pets & Animals
  • Science & Technology
  • Sports
  • Travel & Events


By using captions marketers will maximize the ability for Google to understand what’s on the video and as a result to improve SEO rankings. It is also a powerful way to enable disabled people and people for other countries to understand the video content.

As YouTube support website indicates:

“YouTube Experimental speech recognition technology to provide machine generated captions or ‘auto-captions.’ Although they are not perfect, auto-captions help make video content accessible to deaf and hearing impaired users.”

Click into this link to find out more information about YouTube video captions.


Video Annotations is a new way to add interactive commentary to videos. The biggest problem with them is that not many businesses have come up with a clever way of using them, no business has thought of a way to make them look professional or make them useful to users and viewers. It is a very simple and effective way to make your video content look sharp to your viewing audience.

Simply, the way touse annotations is by:

  • Adding background information about the video
  • Creating stories with multiple possibilities (viewers click to choose the next scene)
  • Linking to related YouTube videos, channels, or search results from within a video

By linking to other videos in a series, subscribers will be encouraged to sign up for business services, and more generally to spend longer time on a brand’s content. Annotations are suggested to remain on the screen at least for several seconds.

Channel Elements

Creating, building, and maintaining your own channel is a great way to share content with your audience and promote your business products or services. Because a channel page is your public face on YouTube, you want to customize your channel as much as possible.

Ideally, you want to make your YouTube channel page look like your website in terms of colors and graphics. The next sections thoroughly explain all the different features of a YouTube channel for businesses.

About Section & Social Profiles

A short text should tell users everything about the channel and what they could expect to find in there. Links to all the social profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) should be included in the channel page, as well. Up to 20 URLs of your choice along with custom titles can be displayed for each channel. If the website has a favicon, the sidebar will display the favicon next to the linked text. If no favicon is available, the sidebar will display a globe icon.

By integrating your different social media accounts, a more thorough image of your brand’s social presence will be available for your channel visitors to explore and interact with them.

Featured Playlists & Other Channels

Featured playlists are groups of YouTube videos which channel administrators are able to customize. Users can subscribe to a playlist so whenever you add a new video to that certain playlist, subscribers will see the updates in the subscription bar of the YouTube’s main page. Playlists do not have to be your own videos, thus any YouTube video can be added to a playlist no matter who it is from.

The channel info area on the right hand side of the page holds an optional space for a business to showcase other channels. You can add whatever channel you think users may be interested in.

Getting more views and boost engagement

Apart from the on-page improvements in regard to your business YouTube channel and videos, other ways could also assist in the promotion of your YouTube activities. By embedding every video on your main business website, video views will be boosted and further on-site discovery will be encouraged.

Also, by posting your YouTube videos on your Facebook fan page, fans will be continuously stay updated with regard to your YouTube new video releases, without having to visit the YouTube website separately. Therefore, more views will be achieved and video content will engage the viewers with the brand more effectively.

Now, it is time and space for your thoughts regarding proven tactics that have boosted your YouTube videos on the top of the results. Comments time!

Kostas Kostalampros
Kostas is an Inbound Marketing enthusiast mostly dealing with Search Engine Optimization and Content Marketing. He is editor in chief of where he is... Read Full Bio
Kostas Kostalampros

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  • Katia BIlleci

    Great article! Wanted to share how we used Annotations, to create a “follow the story” type video for a Dating service. Check out the end of the video here I was also curious to get your opinion on how much weight Google/YouTube places on meta data embedded within the video encoding. Would appreciate your thoughts! Thanks

    • Kostas Kostalampros

      Thank you for your kind words Katia! I went through your video and indeed this is a really good example to illustrate the use of annotations. Regarding video metadata, it’s a significant factor that give engine bots a better understanding of what the video is consisted of. And thus, more chances to rank high a solid webpage with a relevant video (with metadata) inside it. Never forget, that the more you are complying with Google recommendations in your daily SEO, the more chances you have got to succeed in the long run.

  • Emil Blücher

    It’s always nice to see articles about video SEO, as this definitely is a field that deserves attention. I did a lot of research and tests regarding YouTube’s ranking factors, before publishing my Danish blogpost about Video SEO ( ). My clear conclusion was that the embeds, inbound links to video and sharing on various social media had a significant impact on the video ranking. Therefore, I believe that it is important to not only look at the on page possibilities, but also the off page possibilities in Video SEO.

  • Cameron Whitaker

    YouTube is a great online channel to leverage for traffic and to engage more of your target market. These videos are also easy to rank and are so simple to create. Embedding them into your site is a great way to gain more views and also improve your site metrics by increasing user engagement and videos convert extremely well.

  • Dimitris Georgiadis

    Excellent and in depth review Kostas. Thank you!

    • Kostas Kostalampros

      Thank you Dimitris!

  • Bryan

    I think many people over estimate the power of YouTube. As video snippets continue to make their way to the SERPS , more and more marketers should be utilizing video media in their online marketing strategy. Video snippets are eye-grabbing, and can engage a user with ease.

  • manohar thakur

    Of all I must say that all meter is number views you get in 24 hours.

  • John Z Wetmore

    YouTube has been paying more attention to time watched, so that videos that keep viewers engaged and not clicking away will do better. You can see Estimated Minutes Watched in your analytics. More importantly, you can check the analytics for individual videos to see where people are clicking away.

    In my case, I was losing a third of my viewers by the end of my 20 second title sequence. Painful. As much as I like my title sequence for cable tv, I trimmed 20 seconds off of the beginning of 182 videos on YouTube so they start with the meat of the program.

  • Omar Marts

    Thanks Kostas, been doing SEO/SEM for almost 9 years now, and I am starting to focus exclusively on video marketing and SEO for video. These are great tools for someone like me, who knows the business but wants to get more niche in regards to video

  • Adil

    Thanks a lot for the much needed post. I asking from the friends on how to optimize the youtube videos, but thank God that i got the complete details here.

    Kostas Kostalampros I want to ask one question. If for a particular keyword youtube videos are already optimized and if anyone want to occupy that keyword in youtube so what are the tactics for that? Should we make backlink of that video or any other tactic?


    • Kostas Kostalampros

      A powerful tactic could be a potential boost of your video views, so it could be established in the video category you trying to. Try create a social activity to promote it, using the most efficient social media for your business. As a first point creating a buzz around a video is the best thing to do.

      • Adil

        Hmm. Nice. Thank a lot for responding.

  • Del Kyger

    Nice article. I’m going back to my youtube channel to see if I need to tweak anything. Thanks!

  • Stephanos

    Very useful post, especially the part concerning the annotations, I will take advantage of it,

    Thanks for sharing Kostas.

  • John Z Wetmore

    I have started using Annotations to create a Table Of Contents at the start of each video. Many of my videos consist of multiple interviews. At the start I have an introduction mentioning all the upcoming segments. Now I also have Annotations at the same time, so viewers can click to go directly to the interview of interest.

    YouTube now lets you have Annotations with links to an affiliated website. So at the end of each video I have an annotation linking to my website, either the main page or another page related to the video.

    Here is an example:

  • anon

    All utter nonsense. Keywords don’t matter one little bit. Youtube only uses keywords to decide which of its preferred content to plaster all over the “suggested” videos list on your video. You can seriously upload the same video 50 times with different sets of tags and keywords and titles and there will be absolutely no pattern to which gets the most views. Not only that, but, after the latest Algorithm adjustment, you can upload a new video that gets, say, 1000 views a day, but does that mean your channel is getting an extra 1000 views a day? NO The algorithm will simply dump some of your older content to bring you back down to the level you were at before the change. And it’s not a case of your new content competing with the old, because this is the case even when it’s on an unrelated subject.
    All you are to Youtube is a place for them to plaster links to Psy or Justin Bieber videos.
    Type anything into the search-bar, then list the search results by viewcount. You will see that almost ANY search is topped by VEVO videos. Type in “Penis”. What tops the list? Baby, by Justin Beiber. Despite that word not occurring ONCE anywhere in the videos metadata.
    Is Youtube dumb enough to think that, when we list a search by viewcount, we no longer want the results to be relevant to he search? Why the hell did we type that in the search-bar, then? No, it’s more that Youtube thinks we are too stupid to see when we are being used by a desperate company that’s running out of ideas to finally turn a profit. Social functions – EVEN THE HELP FORUMS – get hidden. Seriously, the help forums is very hard t find and keeps getting harder. And now, to allow your channel to be advertised on other peoples channel pages by those people (an agreement between the two of you that has nothing to do with Youtube) you have to allow Youtube to place links to its “preferred content” channels all over your page.
    The first horrendous channel “upgrade” was met with a storm of protests. The second was not. Why? Because Youtube had simply removed all the ways for dissent to spread. They hid the forum because it was filling up with evidence of their own inadequacy, hypocrisy and greed.